Hardball: Chuck Hodes
September 13, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

In ”The Gift,” Keanu Reeves tore into the role of a violent wife abuser with gusto. Unrepentant aggression had replaced his usual Zen-zombie affect, and the change of style looked great on an actor who, in a continuing effort to scruff up his own beauty, has made a career of inhabiting characters for whom heroism is a demand, not a choice: the cop in ”Speed,” the football player in ”The Replacements,” the candidate for manly rehab in ”Sweet November.”

In Hardball, Reeves plays Conor O’Neill, another weak-spined specimen (he’s got gambling issues) who becomes a better man in spite of himself. This corny life-affirmer about one white guy’s spiritual redemption at the small hands of black kids on an inner-city baseball team is loosely based on the real experiences of writer Daniel Coyle, who coached in Chicago’s infamous Cabrini-Green projects. But the movie is so littered with clichés of genre, as well as clichés of artifice in Reeves’ pained performance, that any semblance of social reality goes foul.

type
Movie
Genre
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
106 minutes
director
Brian Robbins
Cast
Mike McGlone,
D.B. Sweeney
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